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Posts Tagged ‘trip plans’

3366167701_6ab63d4fe0_mI think I’ll just say, stay here! If you’re lucky enough to be in the area. It’s a beautiful and well-kept park, with campsites by a river, hiking and a veterans museum with indoor and outdoor exhibits (tanks, aircraft, etc.).

Another reason. Cordelia’s Restaurant at the Lake Blackshear Resort, which is within the park. And within walking distance of the campground. Which means that we had two beautiful evening and morning walks each day we were here. 🙂
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3363936649_032449c483_mToday, it’s a peaceful place, a green rolling hill dotted with a few monuments and markers. But knowing what happened here in 1864-5, imagining what those human beings endured, the hellish conditions, will haunt me for a very long time.

45,000 Union soldiers were confined in a 26-acre stockade during the fourteen months this Civil War prison existed. Almost 13,000 died here. Overcrowded, living in filthy and unsanitary conditions, exposed to the elements, they died of starvation and disease, sometime at the rate of 100 a day.

This park is a tribute to them. You can walk or drive (audio tapes available for $2) the original prison site, with its rebuilt stockade wall sections and remnants of escape tunnels, as well as the Civil War Cemetery, their final resting place, within the larger National Cemetery. We found the two films at the Visitor Center to be a moving prelude to the visit.

The park also pays tribute to all POW’s from the American Revolution to the Iraq War, at the National Prisoner of War Museum. A fascinating tribute to the human spirit.

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3358447898_5f83e83911_m1A small civil war museum, the best preserved earthwork fortifications of the Civil War, great birding and nature hikes – and a campsite that was so quiet (even when the park was full on the weekend) that we slept until past 9:00. Our campsite bordered the salt marshes (#8) and it lulled us into a four-night stay. We did the Magnolia Trail (little more than a mile around the island – where the campground is) both morning and evening and the much longer, but beautiful and amazing Redbird Creek Nature Trail.

We ate at Loves’ Seafood restaurant two of our four nights in camp. It’s not far, rangers will give directions. The first night we each had the scored flounder which was delicious (and gigantic -I never turned mine over). Our second time, we both had the fried shrimp, which we agreed were the best we’ve ever had. And we’ve had a lot of great fried shrimp! They don’t take reservations, ask for a riverside table.

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dscn0057It’s our wedding anniversary today, and the trip we’re on is turning out to be very similar to our honeymoon. Now, now – let me explain.

Thirty-three years ago, our honeymoon trip to Guatemala was cancelled at the last minute due to the devastating earthquake of 1976. We hastily rebooked to an island called Tobago and almost as hastily returned to the U.S. From that day on, we embarked on a never-ending quest – to find a place to spend more than one night in one location. Couldn’t get a room in New Orleans’ French Quarter, so we spent one night on the outskirts, got a gorgeous room on the beach in Galveston but had to leave the next morning since it was reserved for the coming week. This pattern stayed with us all across the United States and up the California coast. The only exception I can remember is a few consecutive nights at Disneyland. The place where dreams are born.

So, here we are in Georgia today. Ready to embark on our month long tour of the Georgia coast and Florida. We have been planning this for what seems like forever, just waiting for the vehicle to be delivered and a window of weather opportunity. We know everything we want to see and every park we want to camp in. We’ve overlooked one thing in our zealous planning. We have no reservations. We didn’t know we needed them this time of year. Of all the questions we’ve asked, all the reading we’ve done – we overlooked this one little thing. And now we find that we can’t get in anywhere we’d planned to go.

So, we’re going to stay at this wonderful state park for several days, and then plan a whole new trip, someplace further north, where there are campgrounds that aren’t booked months in advance.

Another trip that’s going to undergo a major overhaul.

But just like 33 years ago, it’s going to be just fine. Because I’m with the person I love and have chosen to spend my life with – and he’s told me this morning, like so many other mornings, that he feels the same way. We’re going to have a wonderful time, wherever we are.

Who needs Disneyland.
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3359450107_a034989e9e_mWe pay our $33 admission (if you go, print out your own tickets for $27 on their website), rent audio headsets for $8 (optional, but well worth it) and begin our tour of the “largest home in America”.

We start walking, our mouths fall open, our heads rotate to observe whatever it is our audio tour guide is describing at the moment. Sometimes we’re in sync with each other and some of our fellow tourists – sometimes it’s like a little wave of recognition building throughout the room. Various pairs and groups turn and nod to each other when they get to the same part of the tape. Dick and I start making faces to each other to express how we feel about a given tidbit of information. I start to wonder how these faces are being interpreted by people who are not at the same point in the tape…

The tour goes on forever. Floors and floors. Room after room. So much money spent. So many interesting innovations. We’re kind of giddy and enthralled – this place is amazing!

We have a delicious lunch in the stable restaurant. We tour the gardens (to be fair, the gardens aren’t in bloom in March). After a full day, we leave, not knowing what we think about the whole experience.

In a few hours, I feel like I’ve just been to a Big Hollywood Blockbuster Movie (I’m kind of imagining this, since I don’t see that many of those). Wow – that was really exciting, and impressive and must have cost a LOT of money!

Those movies don’t usually stay with me…

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3358359649_f94fed3bd1_mFriendly goats and sheep greeted us from behind their primitive wooden fences as we pulled into this living history museum. I felt we were off to a good start. Things only got better.

What a treasure. Yesterday we were at a small state park (Norris Dam) museum that had a very limited but interesting collection. Today we walked right into the world of the people of Southern Appalachia. We walked into their homes, that looked like they’d just left – their clothes hanging, the tables set, canned goods on the shelves, tools and implements ready to be used, we toured their barns, church, school, blacksmith shop, and all of the usual buildings that exist in many living history sites.

But this museum is unique. The founder traveled isolated back roads all over TN, VA,KY and NC from the early 1960’s, collecting all kinds of things, but more importantly, stories and friends. The museum (especially the large Appalachian Hall of Fame building) is full of pictures, artifacts, and fascinating tidbits and tales about these rugged, resourceful, interesting characters, often in their own words.

I had been feeling kind of adventurous in our 24 ft Navion, giving up (at least some of) the creature comforts of home…

Now, I feel like a Vanderbilt.

My perspective may change when we visit the Biltmore Estate tomorrow?

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We were planning on spending only one night here. There’s a museum in the park that I wanted to see, but didn’t dare hope was open, so I was content with the beauty and no culture (aside from what we bring with us ;)). Then, the ranger who came around to register us last night said not only was the museum open today – Sunday was bluegrass music day. That settled it, we stayed another night.

A guidebook said the Lenoir Museum was like “a little Smithsonian”. They were a little off their rocker. But it’s a wonderful little museum, if you have the time to explore – a glimpse into life in the Appalachia, from the early days, with a grist mill and threshing barn, through the time that the TVA built Norris Dam and all the changes that resulted. The nearby dam is impressive and there are wonderful walks along the water, and other rivers and streams. More hiking trails than we could begin to cover.

The bluegrass music was like being on somebody’s porch, with friends coming by to make some music. No show-biz – they weren’t singing to an audience. Half the time they were talking amongst themselves, tending to a child, taking their time and just enjoying themselves. Like being at the Hansons.

Sat around our fire again tonight, alone on our side of this little mountain, watching amazing cloud formations move across the almost full moon. And we wonder where we’ll be when the moon is full…

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